DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 February) — You woke up on the floor, with the rays of sunshine hitting your eyes. It was already 10 a.m. — usual for everyone but definitely new to you. You must be quite proud of it.

You grabbed a cup of dalgona, not because you wanted it in the first place, but because almost everyone likes it… I guess. Well, most of your dormmates were happy with its taste, but you know yourself better: it was totally not your type.

You sat down on the couch, waiting for the clock to strike 12 so you can start binge-watching the famous series that made you stay late at night. It was not your go-to genre at all, but it was the hype of the town.

You then opened the kitchen drawer, and you started to wonder what to eat at the moment. You only saw a few de lata handpicked by your roommate. You chuckled as you remembered that your roommates even argued at the grocery on why that particular corned beef brand should be bought for the whole week. Deep inside, you know you wanted the other brand more.

You got back to your room, lifted the curtains, and looked outside the window. You see kids running around under the golden hour. You took a photo as the wispy clouds turned pink as they prepared themselves to set. To begin with, it was really not your thing to capture such a candid view, but it seems that everybody is posting it right now. You hit that “post” button on Instagram.

As you get through the day, you realized how everything felt like nothing, as if you did not lift a finger. While staring at the ceiling as you calmed yourself to bed, you sensed that lingering, questionable, unidentified feeling—a feeling you wanted to label for these past few days. While waiting for desperate answers, a friend surprisingly called.

“Uy, tara Jabee ta karon! Kauban nako sila kuan,” he invited excitedly.“Not again,” is what you wanted to reply, but of course, you responded yes… even if you are a love ko ‘to person… even if this is the third time in a row that your friend invited you to eat at the same fast-food chain.

A short conversation—as simple as that—suddenly gave you the unexpected answer you have been longing for. That unidentifiable feeling presented itself as the pressure to fit in. You confusingly laughed, knowing that all along, you are afraid not to follow others. At the same time, you fear the idea of deviating from the so-called norm. Above all, you worry about making a choice and failing it.

While walking down the busiest street in the metro to the meeting place your friend suggested, all that recurred in your mind was how you thought you are forced to be there. You clearly know that it was neither your friends nor your neighbors…

It was you telling yourself to just fit in and not make a choice of your own.

“Mao naman gud ni ang kasagara, ngano mulahi pa man ko?” you tried to reason out once more…

Pero, mao ba jud kaha imong gusto?

(Batang Mindanaw is the youth section of MindaNews. Harvey Spence P. Kentilitisca is a third-year AB Psychology student at the Ateneo de Davao University. He dreams of becoming a clinical psychologist in the next five years.)